Jay Kimbrough, a longtime political adviser to Gov. Rick Perry and the point man for state agency crises through two Republican administrations, remains in serious condition following a Friday motorcycle accident, his family said Sunday.
But his status has improved considerably in the last 24 hours, and doctors in Bryan are optimistic they'll be able to get him into surgery on Monday to try to repair cracked vertebrae in his neck, family friend Wil Galloway said.
"Things are looking better," Galloway said. "He has a long way to go, but he is a fighter, and the battle in these situations is being able to fight."
Galloway said Kimbrough, who has not regained consciousness yet, is not paralyzed — "he's moving his arms and legs considerably."
He said there is no indication yet that Kimbrough has suffered brain damage, though doctors do not yet know the extent of his injuries.
This isn’t Kimbrough’s first life-threatening event; the Dallas native survived near fatal gunshot wounds after his helicopter was shot down into a rice paddy during the Vietnam War. He has been a Harley-Davidson enthusiast for years, and rides around the state every year on the anniversary of his near-death experience, sometimes with Perry at his side.
Kimbrough's career started in Bee County, where he worked his way from the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps to assistant county attorney, county attorney and county judge, and made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 1992.
Over the last two decades, Kimbrough's work has included overhauling drug task forces, cleaning out corruption and targeting sexual predators at the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the Texas Commission on Private Security and the Texas Youth Commission, respectively. He has served as Perry’s criminal justice adviser and his chief of staff, as well as his homeland security director.
Kimbrough previously was a deputy chancellor at the Texas A&M University System, where he made headlines in 2011 by taking out his pocketknife and showing it to senior staff when his position was eliminated. Authorities called to the scene described the behavior as “non-threatening,” but the event ended Kimbrough’s work in higher education.
Kimbrough, who is deeply committed to military issues, is currently a state adviser on veterans affairs. He has been known to spend his weekends checking obituaries and driving to military funerals of soldiers he has never met.
Galloway said it's still unclear why Kimbrough veered off of the road on Friday evening.
His family is "doing very well; they're very strong," Galloway said. "They want to thank everyone for the outpouring of care and prayers, and love that they’ve received from all over. There has not been a shortage of that."